Defenders, wingmen in Eaglehawk Team of Century
By Richard Jones
Named in mid-August 2005, Eaglehawk’s Team of the Century included a number of players with VFL/AFL experience.
From early 20th century Carlton premiership players to Melbourne F.C. key position players right through to champion AFL on-ballers the Hawks’ final 22 had it all.
In this story I’ll concentrate on the side’s six defenders plus the selections for the two wing positions.
And talking about star Carlton players the Two Blues’ full-back is Ollie Grieve.
He’d captain-coached Eaglehawk to the 1953 premiership over Sandhurst after starring in 137 games for then VFL side Carlton from 1942-52.
Ollie had turned out for the Princes Park Blues for 11 seasons and had won Carlton’s fairest and best award in his final year: 1952.
And then in his first season at Canterbury Park Grieve led the Hawks to the ’53 BFL flag.
He passed away in early 1978 aged only 57.
Alongside Grieve are vice-captain Basil Ashman and Bob Clough.
Ashman was a dual BFL premiership player in 1953 and 1957, captain-coaching the ’57 side to their grand final win over Kyneton: 14.17 to 10.11.
Basil was the BFL’s youngest-ever premiership coach at the age of 22 when he took the Hawks to the ’57 flag. He could take a turn in the ruck as well as manning a defence back pocket slot.
I worked with Basil for a decade-and-a half on the Bendigo Advertiser-Channel 8 Sports Star of the Year selection committee and his knowledge about Bendigo and central Victorian sportsmen and women and their achievements is second to none.
And not just footballers and netballers. All sports.
Clough was also a 1953 and 1957 premiership player and was known as a close-checking, hard-hitting defender.
Between 1952 and 1960 Clough played more than 100 games with the Hawks.
Across the half-back line are two 1982 premiership teammates in Peter ‘Roggo’ Rogerson and skipper Robert ‘Ninga’ O’Connell.
Roggo was known for his tough manning-up approach to footy and he was never a player to shirk a hard player-on-player contest.
Along with O’Connell he’d launch countless forward forays from the half-back line and was with Ninga in the grand final sides of 1984, 1986 and 1987 which lost to Northern United in those seasons.
O’Connell was in the top three of overhead-marking defensive specialists of his era.
Intercept grabs were his speciality and he played in the Hawks’ premiership teams of 1980 and 1982 to hand Ninga a total of five BFL grand finals (1984-86-87 included) in his career.
Half-back flanker Fred Jinks is the first of three Eaglehawk Team of the Century teammates from the early 20th century.
His resume is outstanding. Fred played in premiership sides with Eaglehawk (1901 and 1903) and then another three with Carlton in the VFL from 1906-07-08.
A fiery customer he racked up 60 games with the Blues and booted 28 goals.
Fred also spent time as playing coach in 1910 at North Melbourne, then a member club of the VFA.
On the wings selectors named Alan ‘Bruiser’ Williams and Jack Slattery.
Bruiser is one of the most decorated players in BFL history. As his nickname suggests Williams was never reluctant to take charge in contested ball situations and he racked up an amazing 305 games for the Two Blues.
He was in four premiership teams, won eight club fairest and best awards and was the league’s Michelsen Medallist in 1974.
In inter-league games he was also a star. I recall one miserable occasion when the Blue and Golds were trounced by LaTrobe Valley and ‘Bruiser was just about the only BFL footballer worthy of mention in the ‘best player’ list.
Slattery was in the Hawks’ best six in their one-goal 1968 premiership victory over South Bendigo (8.16 to 8.10).
Before that season he’d played 32 games for Footscray in the then VFL from 1959 to 1962 booting 41 goals, including four in the preliminary final win over Melbourne in 1961.
Unfortunately for Jack and his teammates he didn’t land a single major in the ’61 grand final loss to Hawthorn: Hawks 13.16 (94), Footscray 7.9 (51).
Eaglehawk Team of the Century
B: Basil Ashman (v-c), Ollie Grieve, Bob Clough.
Hb: Peter Rogerson, Robert O’Connell (c), Fred Jinks.
C: Jack Slattery, Eddie Esposito, Alan Williams.
Hf: Mancel Davies, George Ilsley, Alf Baud.
F: Harry Morgan, Greg Kennedy, Rod Ashman.
Foll: Fred Trewarne, Des English, Peter Pianto.
Inter: Frank Crapper, George McWilliam, Darren Thompson, Steve McDougall, George Ennor, Kevin Smith.
Coach: John Ledwidge.